Belfast Telegraph

Real IRA 'is ninth richest terror group in the world'

By Amanda Ferguson

The Real IRA is the world's ninth richest terror organisation, it has been claimed.

According to a report from Forbes Israel, the dissident group, which now calls itself the IRA, has an income of around £32m, largely generated from smuggling and organised crime.

This conclusion was reached by the magazine after analysing data and other information provided by the US State Department and academics.

Last night, a PSNI spokesman declined to comment on the alleged sources of the group's income but Richie Culhane, a former Special Branch garda in Co Louth, told Sunday Times a huge amount of the Real IRA's money comes from illegal fuel operations.

"Laundering marked or agricultural diesel and selling is as road fuel is a major source of funding," he said.

A diesel plant said to be capable of producing 20 million litres of illicit fuel was uncovered in the Forkhill area of Co Armagh earlier this month.

Trafficking alcohol over the border and smuggling cigarettes from China and eastern Europe are also said to be a sources of income.

Funding for the organisation, the only European-based group on the Forbes list, is still a considerable way behind Islamic State (Isis), which emerged as the world's richest terror group in history, with an income of £1.3bn.

The Real IRA carried out the 1998 Omagh bomb, which claimed the lives of 29 people and unborn twins.

It was also claimed responsibility for the deaths of two British soldiers in 2009 outside the Massereene Barracks in Antrim and has been linked to other gun attacks, bombings and other criminality across the UK and Ireland.

Other dissident republican groups, like the Continuity IRA, or loyalist terror groups fail to make the Forbes list.

Following Isis on the Forbes top 10 list is Hamas with an income of £638m amd Colombia's Farc - which had links to the Provisional IRA - is ranked third with £383m.

Hezbollah was fourth with £319m, the Taliban was fifth with £255m, followed by Al-Qaida and its affiliates with £96m; Pakistani-based Lashkar e-Taiba with £64m; Somalia's Al-Shabaab with £45m; Real IRA with £32m and, closing the top 10 list is Boko Haram, with £16m.

Yesterday, former Home Secretary David Blunkett said countries including Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were protecting funders of IS fighters and called for Gulf States to take action against citizens who are funding terror.

Factfile

Forbes Israel top 10 of terror:

1 Isis £1.3bn

2 Hamas £638m

3 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) £383m

4 Hezbollah £319m

5 Taliban £255m

6 Al-Qaeda and affiliates £96m

7 Lashkar e-Taiba £64m

8 Al-Shabaab £45m

9 Real IRA £32m

10 Boko Haram £16m

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